What’s Wafer Level Packaging?

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Wafer-level packaging is a technique in which packaging is applied around each circuit board before the wafer is separated into individual circuits. This method streamlines the manufacturing process, reduces production time and cost, and allows for smaller component sizes. Components manufactured with wafer-level packaging are widely used in consumer electronics and other applications.

Wafer-level packaging refers to manufacturing integrated circuits by applying packaging around each circuit board before the wafer they are manufactured on is separated into individual circuits. This technique has rapidly become popular in the integrated circuit industry due to its advantages in component size, production time and cost. A component manufactured in this way is considered a type of chip scale package. This means that its size is almost equal to that of the die inside it, on which the electronic circuit is located.

Conventional integrated circuit manufacturing generally begins with the production of silicon wafers upon which the circuits will be fabricated. An ingot of pure silicon is typically cut into thin slices, called wafers, which serve as the foundation upon which microelectronic circuits are built. These loops are separated in a process known as wafer cutting. Once separated, they are packaged into individual components and the welding cables are applied to the package.

Wafer-level packaging differs from conventional manufacturing in the way the package is applied. Rather than splitting the circuits and then applying the packaging and cables before continuing with testing, this technique is used to integrate multiple steps. The top and bottom of the package and the solder leads are applied to each IC prior to wafer cutting. Testing also typically occurs prior to shredding the wafer.

Like many other common component package types, integrated circuits produced with wafer-level packaging are a type of surface-mount technology. Surface mount devices are applied directly to the surface of a circuit board by melting solder beads attached to the component. Wafer-level components can typically be used in a similar way to other surface mount devices. For example, they can often be purchased on reels of tape for use in automated component placement systems known as pick and place machines.

A number of economic benefits can be achieved with the implementation of wafer-level packaging. It enables the integration of wafer fabrication, packaging, and testing, thereby streamlining the manufacturing process. Reducing production cycle time increases productivity and reduces cost per unit produced.

Wafer-level packaging also allows you to reduce the packaging size, saving material and further reducing production costs. More importantly, however, the smaller package size allows the components to be used in a wider variety of advanced products. The need for smaller component sizes, especially low package height, is a major market driver for wafer-level packaging.
Components manufactured with wafer-level packaging are widely used in consumer electronics such as mobile phones. This is largely due to market demand for smaller, lighter electronic devices that can be used in ever more complex ways. For example, many cell phones are used for a variety of functions beyond just calling, such as taking pictures or recording videos. Wafer-level packaging has also been used in a variety of other applications. For example, they are used in automotive tire pressure monitoring systems, implantable medical devices, military data transmission systems, and more.

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